Madonna in a fur coat

Sabahattin Ali, 1906-1948

Book - 2017

"A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade and discover life in 1920s Berlin. There, amid the city's bustling streets, elegant museums, passionate politics and seedy cabarets, a change meeting transforms his life forever. Caught between his desire for freedom and his yearning to belong, he struggles to hold on to the new life he has found"--

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FICTION/Sabahatt
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Subjects
Genres
Romance fiction
Published
New York : Other Press 2017.
Language
English
Turkish
Physical Description
200 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781590518809
1590518802
Main Author
Sabahattin Ali, 1906-1948 (author)
Other Authors
Maureen Freely, 1952- (translator), Alexander Dawe
Review by Booklist Reviews

What impels a man like Raif to live? The Turkish narrator of this slim and haunting novel poses this question as he strikes a tentative friendship with a man "too timid ever to dare to explore his soul." The only bread-earner for a large extended family, Raif is nevertheless subjected to derision, as he always has been. The narrator then reads an old diary that chronicles Raif's time in Berlin in the late 1920s, when he was drawn to an enigmatic self-portrait, Madonna in a Fur Coat, and then to the confident, half-Jewish artist. Why didn't their relationship last? What memories still play out in Raif's mind? Ali (1907–48), a dissident Turkish writer imprisoned and later, it is believed, murdered by the state, originally published this then largely overlooked love story in 1943. Decades later, it holds a place on Turkey's best-seller lists, arguably in response to the recentgovernment crackdown on civil liberties. Available in English in the U.S. for the first time, Ali's memorable novel explores fatalism and the complications of temperament, family ties, and unconventional love. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Finally available in English, this 1943 Turkish classic from a journalist twice imprisoned for his political views limns the emotionally wrought relationship between a reserved young Turkish man and an unconventional woman artist in interwar Berlin. The novel starts somewhat slowly as a narrator introduces us to his colleague Raif Efendi, invisible at work and used badly at home. But when Raif takes over the narration, explaining that as a young man he traveled to Berlin to learn a new language and see the larger world, the story picks up speed, depth, and flair. To a naïf from the Turkish countryside, the 1920s Berlin intimately detailed here initially proves overwhelming. At an art exhibit, he is enthralled by the portrait of a woman in a fur coat, then meets and falls for artist Maria Puder herself. Maria has strong views about men and relationships that will resonate with contemporary readers, and her affair with Raif unfolds cautiously. But their long-term plans are thwarted when they fail to reconnect after Raif is called back to Turkey, and his heartbreak is moving and palpable. VERDICT Ali's affecting story of love and loss is both timeless and grounded in its distinctive setting, with sometimes old-fashioned charm that will appeal to many readers. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Appearances are not what they seem in Ali's rich novel, first published in Turkey in 1943 and only now appearing in the U.S. A 25-year-old narrator introduces readers to his fellow Turkish clerical worker, Raif Efendi, a somewhat sickly milquetoast whose rich inner life is hinted at in an evocative sketch he draws of their co-worker. After seeing the artwork, the narrator and Efendi—who supports a household of unappreciative relatives on a meager translator's salary—become close. A deeper story unfolds when Efendi allows the narrator to read a private notebook that documents his strange and wonderful relationship with Maria Puder, a mysterious artist he met in Berlin in 1923. Ali explores Maria and Efendi's complex relationship through Maria's thoughts on the metaphorical and physical boundaries of love, the expectations placed on men and women, the roles they take up or discard, and the choices people make when they are looking for a meaningful relationship. The narrator comes to understand that the outward appearance of Efendi's life as numb and unsatisfying belies its unimaginable depths of feeling and vulnerability. This fascinating story veers in surprising and revealing directions. (Nov.) Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to discover life in 1920s Berlin, where he falls in love with a half-Jewish artist against the backdrop of the city's bustling streets and seedy cabarets.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade and discover life in 1920s Berlin. There, amid the city's bustling streets, elegant museums, passionate politics and seedy cabarets, a change meeting transforms his life forever. Caught between his desire for freedom and his yearning to belong, he struggles to hold on to the new life he has found"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An English-language translation of a best-selling Turkish classic of love and alienation in the changing world of 1920s Berlin follows the transition of a conflicted young man as he falls in love with a beautiful half-Jewish artist against a backdrop of the city's sophisticated venues, passionate politics and infamous cabarets. Original. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Available in English for the first time, this best-selling Turkish classic of love and alienation in a changing world captures the vibrancy of interwar Berlin.  A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade and discover life in 1920s Berlin. There, amidst the city’s bustling streets, elegant museums, passionate politics, and infamous cabarets, a chance meeting with a beautiful half-Jewish artist transforms him forever. Caught between his desire for freedom from tradition and his yearning to belong, he struggles to hold on to the new life he has found with the woman he loves.   Emotionally powerful, intensely atmospheric, and touchingly profound, Madonna in a Fur Coat is an unforgettable novel about new beginnings, the relentless pull of family ties, and the unfathomable nature of the human soul. First published in 1943, this novel, with its quiet yet insistent defiance of social norms, has been topping best-seller lists in Turkey since 2013.